I Said “No” – A Message of Healing After Abortion

December 20th, 2016

I wrote a post a few days ago about Mary saying “Yes” to God and the blessings we all receive because of her steadfast faith. In contrast to that post, I want to address those of us who unfortunately said “No” when we found ourselves with an unexpected pregnancy and chose abortion.

healing after abortion during Christmas seasonMany women who have had an abortion experience difficulties around the anniversaries of their abortions and/or when their babies were due.  I used to experience depression during those anniversaries but also around Christmastime because it was the biggest reminder of how I failed God, my children as well as myself.  I thought of my babies every time I saw baby Jesus in the manger or in the arms of the Blessed Mother and the regret was paralyzing.

If it hadn’t been for an after abortion healing program, I would still not only find myself saddened when viewing a nativity scene or images of the Blessed Mother with Baby Jesus but still consider myself a failure in God’s eyes.  I now fully embrace Christmastime, in fact, I have a collection of nativity scenes and have a statue of the Blessed Mother with Baby Jesus on my fireplace.

Through healing, I came to understand that because of Mary’s “Yes”, redemption for what I considered an unforgiveable act, was there for the asking.  And because of His loving mercy, and Mary’s inspiration of faith and courage, I am able to speak out in an attempt to prevent others from saying, “No”.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” …
Romans 3:23-24

If you are struggling with your decision to abort, please visit the Silent No More Awareness Campaign website for healing resources.  You are not alone.

by Patti Smith – Regional Coordinator for San Diego, CA

For more of Patti’s writings, visit her blog.

Why I Regret Aborting My Baby with Down Syndrome

December 7th, 2016

Children with a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis are often in danger of abortionA few weeks ago, an ad featuring happy children with Down Syndrome was banned by the French government, because of concerns that the ad might upset women who had aborted their children due a Down Syndrome prenatal diagnosis.  Sadly, abortion is a common response to a Down Syndrome prenatal diagnosis, as high as 90% of these pregnancies ending in abortion.  But by choosing to censor the ad, France is not only denying people with Down Syndrome the opportunity to show their personal worth and value but also denying women the truth of the humanity of the child they aborted.  When women are unable to face the truth, they cannot cope with the many painful feelings and regrets after their abortions.  And if they cannot cope with their feelings, they will never be able to find healing and peace.

In response to the blocking of the ad, blog author Julie Roys invited Silent No More Chicago Regional Coordinator Nancy Kreuzer to share her story of her abortion after a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis, her healing, and why she supported the showing of this ad.

To read Nancy’s post, visit Julie Roys blog.

Nancy Kreuzer serves as the Chicago regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a non-denominational Christian organization and a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life. Nancy resides in Glen Ellyn, IL, is married, and has two grown children. She can be reached at: Chicago at silentnomoreawareness.org. 

Unspoken Pain – Men and Abortion

October 20th, 2016

This article was originally featured in the Vol 19, No. 1 of the Christian Counselor Today journal

By Paul Marshall, Regional Coordinator in Central NY

A few years ago, I met a man who was in his mid-40s. He stood alone by the entrance of the banquet hall where I had just spoken. As I made my way through the crowd of people, he stepped forward to introduce himself. Jim and I talked for quite some time and, as we did, he began to unload a heavy burden…one he had been carrying for more than 20 years.

Jim had served in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. While home on leave during his fourth year of active duty, his girlfriend became pregnant. Jim, however, never learned of this pregnancy until he was discharged and returned home to marry the woman he loved. It was during one of their premarital counseling sessions that his girlfriend shared her secret with Jim and their priest. When the word “abortion” reached his ears, Jim felt sick to his stomach. He could not believe what he had just heard. “It was like being punched in the gut and having a piece of my soul torn away,” Jim said.

Like many relationships where abortion is involved, theirs became unstable and ended in hostility. Jim never married because he became so untrusting. He thinks of his child every day and wonders what his son or daughter would be like. Every year Jim goes into deep depression during the month of June and drinks heavier than normal. “That’s the month he would have been born,” Jim said.

I wish this story is unique, but it is not. Common among men I meet who have abortions in their past is the inability to trust and hurt that cuts so deep it is felt even decades after the abortions occurred. This is especially true with men who had no say in the decision. However, even for men who took an active role, abortion brings back memories they would rather forget. They speak of shame, regret, depression, and anger.

Imagine how deeply it affects a man who in the 70s was led to believe that his baby was nothing more than a mass of cells, only to discover in the 80s and 90s—through the miracle of ultrasound—that the mass of cells had a heartbeat and little arms and legs. One man who completed our abortion recovery Bible study said, “I still feel the loss…but I’m not having nightmares anymore.” For years he endured nightmares reflecting the anxiety he experienced while sitting in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. As hard as he tried, he could not stop thinking of his unborn baby during the abortion procedure.

Some Christian men wonder if God will truly forgive them. One individual I counseled lived in constant fear that God would “balance the scale.” He became a Christian after the abortions occurred. Yet, even with his newfound faith, he was afraid that in an act of divine retribution, God would cause something horrible to happen to him or the children he later fathered with his wife. To cope with this fear, he did not allow himself the luxury of feeling too close to them, detaching himself as a way of protection. It was not until his kids were heading off to college that he realized how much he had missed and the source of his insecurity. Thinking about his story has led me to wonder how many children have fathers in the house, but not in their lives because of the long-term impact abortion has had on their dads?

In an effort to cope with the memory of abortion, many men turn to drugs or alcohol. That was my escape after living through two abortions in high school. After the first, I almost drank myself to death trying to kill the pain of my (our) loss. Having felt our baby moving inside his mother’s womb one Friday morning, I was crushed after learning on Monday that she had a late-term, therapeutic abortion over the weekend….a choice that was made for her, not by her.

One the outside, men may appear to be indifferent about abortion. I have certainly met my share who seemingly could not care less. However, after examining my own experience and listening to the men I have come to know, it seems that the trauma caused by abortion eats away at many of us like cancer. Even after discovering God’s grace and forgiveness, the residual distress can last a lifetime. This problem is aggravated by the fact that most men who do regret their abortion decisions have been silent about the effects of those choices. Fearing rejection and shame, especially in the church, most men never discover the healing that could set them free.

You might think “unspoken torment” is a distortion of what men experience after losing a child to abortion. Yet, having walked in their shoes and counseled men whose lives have been torn apart by abortion, to describe what we feel as anything less would be an insult.

Every time I share my testimony, whether it is in a church setting, at a pregnancy center banquet, or some other venue, men come forward to say “Me too.” Although not every one of them seeks healing…some are only ready to confess their grief for the very first time. However, from physicians to high school students, we are seeing an increase in the number of men at our center who are beginning to address this issue through abortion recovery Bible studies. My hope is that this trend will continue and that the Lord will inspire more men to seek help and discover lasting hope and healing.

No Apologies

October 11th, 2016

by Patti Smith – Regional Coordinator for San Diego, CA

I wrote an article for Catholic 365; an open letter to Tim Kaine, Vice-Presidential candidate, who professes to be a devout Catholic yet supports the Democratic platform that promotes ideals contrary to the Catholic faith.  (Read the article here.)   Sadly, Mr. Kaine is not the only Catholic politician who publicly goes against the Church’s teachings.  I probably should have spoken out sooner, but sometimes fear (brought on by Satan) gets in the way.

Yes, my friends, there are times when I bite my tongue out of fear …  fear of being misunderstood and fear of being maligned.  It was only after careful and prayerful consideration I decided to move forward with the commentary.  Alas, my fears came to pass.  Although some of the comments (on the Catholic 365 website and associated Facebook page ) were positive, there were a few negative ones (with grammar/spelling corrected) that tugged at my heart:

“Move over God; Patti’s in charge now. She’ll be making all the decisions and judgments on everyone’s behavior from now on, and will be doing your job for you. She apparently knows better than you do.”

“In this year of mercy and compassion, it seems unusual to find someone still focusing on condemnation and judgment of others.”

“Judge much? You may have your opinion yes. However, God is the final judge. Claiming he’s not devout enough is not your role or anyone’s. It’s God’s. Signed a Catholic.”

“Why doesn’t Patti whatever her name is just make a move to have Mr. Kaine excommunicated? That’ll show him whose boss and is making all the decisions.”

My response to those comments and those still coming in:

I will not apologize, nor do I regret speaking my mind.  I am a proud Catholic and will do everything in my power to defend the teachings of the Church, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life and traditional family values.

In this Year of Mercy, I pray for those who have fallen away, but sometimes prayer is not enough.  We are taught in Galations 6:1:  “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself so that you also may not be tempted.  “Luke 17:3 reminds us, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…”

I am not judging … far from it.  I too am a sinner.  If it weren’t for the teachings of the Church and for others helping me see the error of my ways, I would be plunged back into a dark abyss and never return.  I do not want that to happen to me or anyone.

“My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. ”
James 5:19-20

For more of Patti’s writings, visit her blog.

National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children – 9/10/16

September 13th, 2016

by Patti Smith – Regional Coordinator for San Diego, CA

On September 10, 2016, Rachel’s Hope – Escondido/San Diego, San Diego Silent No More and North County 40 Days for Life, co-sponsored the fourth annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.  It was held at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carlsbad, CA, and officiated by Father Michael Robinson who gave a touching homily and led us all in song. Joanne Strantz did a wonderful job as emcee and Rosemary Benefield and Tony DePaola provided valuable insights and information in our fight for life.

As with planning any event, there were “bumps in the road” (video camera and computer malfunctions), but God answered our prayers and the ceremony went forward beautifully.
It was an honor to give testimony and wanted to share my words with you….
We are gathered here to mourn the innocent children lost to abortion and to raise our voices to heaven assuring them they will never be forgotten and proclaiming their precious lives matter.

It’s also an opportunity for me to share the truth of what abortion does.  You see, two of the innocent children we mourn today are Matthew Thomas and Sarah Catherine – my precious son and daughter.

We all are aware abortion takes the life of a child, but did you know there are life-long consequences for the mother and those around her?

I didn’t.  It took many years for me to understand that “To choose is to lose”.  Through choice, my children lost their life.   Through choice, I lost the chance to be a biological mother because I had a tubal ligation at the age of thirty.  I was punishing myself for the abortions … I didn’t deserve to be a mother.  I eventually adopted, but through choice, my adopted son lost the opportunity to have a brother and sister, my parents lost two grandchildren, my sister a niece and nephew, two men lost fatherhood and my husband two more step-children he would have loved as much as he loves my living son.

My choice resulted other consequences as well.  I tried to ignore the loss through obsessive behavior, negative attention seeking and substance abuse which grew over time, culminating into self-loathing, a loss of self-worth and depression – which eventually led to my becoming suicidal and being committed to a psychiatric facility.

Sadly, my experience is more of the rule than the exception and does not limit itself to mothers but to all involved in the choice to abort.  Whether the choice was made out of fear, embarrassment or intimidation, the loss is there … sometimes not surfacing for months, years or decades later but always brewing in the dark recesses of the soul.  

Spiritually-speaking, I and countless others hid from God and some still do, convinced we committed,  “the unforgivable sin,”  believing He could never love, let alone forgive someone who had or encouraged an abortion. The shame and remorse is immeasurable.

Statistics show that approximately one-third of American women have had at least one abortion by age 45.  Yes, my friends, one-third. Other studies have shown about 1 in 10 of these women continue to attend church and many of them, as well as those complicit in the abortion decision, are still suffering in silence. They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends and fellow parishioners.

Which brings me to another reason I’m here…..to assure those suffering in silence all is not lost.  We have a merciful God who loves all of His children. Nothing, absolutely nothing is unforgivable in God’s eyes if we go to Him with humble and repentant hearts. I pray their wounded souls can embrace His mercy and forgiveness and reach out for healing thus receive what has been missing for quite some time …. Peace and Hope.

For more of Patti’s writings, visit her blog.

Resisting the Replay

August 24th, 2016

by Patti Smith – Regional Coordinator for San Diego, CA

We are all sinners; we are human, after all. Turning back the hands of time to reverse our words or actions is impossible.  All we can do is make amends and ask for forgiveness.  That’s all well and good; however, how many times do we receive forgiveness from God and others yet still wallow in guilt by recounting the transgressions in our minds?  Why is it so easy to give forgiveness than to accept?

Being an overachiever in the mistake department, I struggled with that acceptance for many years.  Why?  Because I could not forgive myself.  No matter how hard I tried to move on, I continued to browbeat myself unmercifully … avoiding, out of shame, the person(s) harmed and isolating from God … feeling unworthy to be in His presence.

Now, whenever tempted to dwell on past transgressions, I play a little mind game.  I picture Satan with a DVD of my failings.  He’s cackling and sneering while continually hitting the replay button …  an evil attempt to imprison me in guilt and remorse, separating me from loved ones and distancing me from God.  Seeing that image puts everything in perspective and puts a smile on my face. I’m able to laugh and say,  “You’re playing a blank disk, Satan … God already hit the delete button.”

 Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide.
I said, “I confess my transgression to the LORD,” and you
 took away the guilt of my sin.
(Psalm 32:5)

For more of Patti’s writings, visit her blog.

After Abortion Regret: The Hypocritical Eulogy?

August 8th, 2016

by Patti Smith – Regional Coordinator for San Diego, CA

 

Next month, I will be speaking at a memorial service for the unborn as part of the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.

Although not a stranger to public speaking, this event will be heart-wrenching because I’m, in essence, giving a eulogy for Matthew and Sarah, my two aborted children.  How does one find the words?  It’s not like a eulogy for a child who passed away from an accident or illness.  My children are gone because of me.

It is times like this when “stinking thinking” starts.  I recall how Abraham Lincoln described hypocrisy – “A man who kills both parents then asks for mercy because he’s an orphan.” Once again fear rears its ugly head, causing me to worry the audience will be thinking along the same lines as Mr. Lincoln.

Then I start to smile…yes, smile.  I remember that through the grace of God, the person allowing Sarah and Matthew’s death no longer exists. I remember the verse repeated so often while attending a healing retreat, 1 John 1: 9, “If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing,” and I need to remember “Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Through God’s mercy, I was given another chance, and it would only be hypocritical if I squandered that chance … which is why I will be speaking. To honor not just my babies, but all lost to abortion.  To ask everyone to lift their voices to Heaven, proclaiming these precious angels matter and are loved, and commit ourselves to do all we can to end the culture of death in our society.

For more of Patti’s writings, visit her blog.

What Happens When People Share Their Abortion Stories

August 4th, 2016

By: Cullen Herout – Cullen is a licensed mental health practitioner and a pro-life writer. He has been working with Rachel’s Vineyard for more than five years.

 
In April 2011, I began working with the post-abortion ministry Rachel’s Vineyard. The ministry hosts weekend retreats for men and women who have chosen or been a part of an abortion. Over the years I have witnessed many amazing transformations in the lives of retreatants. Not only that, I have learned an incredible amount about faith, forgiveness, and the pain that abortion can cause in a person’s life.

The retreat weekends have a unique way of helping men and women come to know forgiveness and experience the loving acceptance of others who have also chosen to abort their children. The weekends offer a safe, non-judgmental, non-politicized environment for post-abortive persons to tell their stories, examine how abortion has affected their lives, and be heard.

But what makes the weekends so effective at bringing about healing and peace in a person’s life? Perhaps the secret lies in the importance of storytelling.

An old saying suggests that what we cannot put into words we cannot put to rest. In other words, without the ability to verbalize something negative that’s happened to us, without the ability to process and make sense of it, it will continue to reside in the emotional part of our brains, unprocessed and continuing to wreak havoc on our emotional functioning. It continues to be experienced through the emotional center of the brain, and memories, reminders, or flashbacks to the event can trigger acute emotional responses. These acute responses oftentimes persist until the person has made sense of the emotional, or perhaps even traumatic, event.

So Many Obstacles to Opening Up

I cannot count how many times on a retreat weekend I have heard “I’ve never shared my abortion story with anyone,” or “Nobody has ever asked me to tell my story,” or worse, “Nobody has ever cared or even bothered to ask me about my abortion.” Many times, the retreatants have never had or been given an opportunity to talk about their abortion experience. The emotional or physical pain they experience after an abortion often is ignored or misdiagnosed.

As Theresa Burke points out in her book “Forbidden Grief,” this is due to two factors. One, emotional or physical pain experienced immediately after an abortion is often neglected or labeled “normal aftermath.” When people express this pain, it often meets “Oh, that’s normal, you’ll get over that.” Men and women met with this response are certainly more likely to bury the negative emotions they may experience as the time goes on after the abortion.

On the other hand, when longer-term emotional pain or regret surface, they often meet confusion or disdain. If the person does muster up the courage to tell someone or ask for help, questions such as “Why are you still thinking about that?” or “You still haven’t let that go?” are often the response. Rarely is the man or woman given a chance to discuss the experience, and even more rarely given a chance to express the surrounding grief or other emotions.

Both of these responses reinforce the notion that abortion stories are better left untold. Post-abortive men and women are often made to feel as though they are harboring some sort of pathology due to post-abortive grief and regret. Thoughts such as “Maybe there is something wrong with me if I’m still suffering” can permeate a person’s thoughts. Even further still, the political rhetoric that says abortion is a personal decision can also silence those men and women who are suffering alone.

The Power of Unlocking Our Deepest Secrets

On that last note, our modern liberal culture has a particularly harsh way of silencing those who dissent from popular groupthink or opinion. The notion that abortion can, in some cases, bring intense emotional suffering, regret, shame, and grief counters the liberal narrative that abortion is a harmless, mundane medical procedure. As such, post-abortion suffering gets no attention from a liberal-oriented mainstream media. When was the last time you saw a movie or TV show about a woman grieving her aborted child, or regretting her decision? As such, those men and women who are suffering after an abortion often feel isolated and made to think they have nowhere to turn.

So when the women and men on the retreat are finally given a chance to tell their stories, it is often an extremely cathartic event. Having had the privilege of hearing so many stories, it is amazing to me the way that years, sometimes decades, of pain can come flooding out in a period of 15 or 20 minutes. Many times, the men and women are surprised by the details they can suddenly remember. Other times, they are amazed at what a relief it is to allow the emotions to come flooding out.

Almost always, through telling their story, they are surprised to find a personal core belief underneath all the pain and emotion. These core beliefs can take many forms, depending on the person’s underlying thoughts and feelings toward the abortion experience and his or her baby. Some examples of core beliefs include “I miss my baby,” “I am really angry at so and so,” or “I felt so alone.” The most common core belief is “I wish someone would have helped me make a different decision.” This particular belief speaks to the pain caused by isolating oneself either during or after the abortion experience. In all, unlocking these beliefs is an extremely powerful moment in the healing process.

I Need to Understand Why I Did That

When the men and women tell their stories on the weekend, we invite them to put the abortion story into the context of their lives. How old were they? What was their family like? Did they have any support? Whose advice did they take? These are all important considerations, and inviting the men and women to think about these questions can be extremely helpful.

On a practical note, this makes perfect sense. Our choices, good and bad, don’t happen in a vacuum. If I look back on all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I begin to notice the various influences at play. Perhaps I listened to people I shouldn’t have and ignored the people I should’ve listened to. Perhaps I had no support, I was flying through life with nowhere to turn when things became difficult. This isn’t meant to minimize my mistakes, but rather help me to understand how I made the choices I did.

The same can be said of those who have chosen abortion. Helping them to understand the various influences at play during the time of their pregnancy and abortion can help them to make sense of the choice they made. Again, the purpose isn’t to minimize the action chosen, but rather to help them understand the choice and begin the process of healing.

The First Step of Self-Integration

Storytelling can also be very powerful because it gives a voice to those parts of our lives that we have previously been unable to voice. Any psychologist or mental health professional will tell us we are emotionally healthiest when we have integrated all parts of ourselves into the whole. We all have parts of ourselves we like, parts we don’t like, past events we wish we could erase, and so on. When we deny, feel ashamed of, or otherwise ignore certain parts of ourselves, we prohibit those parts from integrating with the rest of our whole selves. As a result, we remain emotionally unhealthy until we accept those parts of ourselves and allow them to become part of the whole.

Storytelling is key to integrating all parts of ourselves. For the post-abortive men and women who come on the retreats, it allows them to verbalize parts of themselves that they oftentimes have ignored or are otherwise embarrassed or ashamed to acknowledge. The abortion experience has frequently been cast away to the far corners of their minds and ignored, even suppressed for long periods of time. It’s one they don’t care or are afraid to acknowledge. The opportunity to tell their stories can, in many cases, help them accept that part of themselves and move toward integration.

This explains the transformations that I’ve seen on these retreats. This is the laborious first step of self-integration that happens when individuals confront and make sense of the deepest parts of themselves they have previously been unable to confront or make sense of. I’ve seen individuals show up on Friday afternoon jaded, angry, harboring resentments, and leave on Sunday afternoon with a newfound peace. I’ve seen depression turn to joy, grief turn to gratitude, and regret turn to acceptance. Many different parts of the retreat contribute to these transformations, but the storytelling aspect is at its core.

The ability to tell one’s story is an indispensable part of emotional health. It is life-giving, and when we deprive others of the ability to tell their stories, whatever that story might be, we deprive them of the opportunity to share a part of themselves with us.

Conversely, when we allow people to tell their stories, we are facilitating healing and increased emotional health. When we allow post-abortive men and women to tell their stories, not only are we able to see the pain and turmoil abortion causes, but we also help them move to a place of healing, forgiveness, and recovery.

 

This article originally appeared in The Federalist.

The Treasured Pearl

August 4th, 2016

by Nancy Belzile, Regional Coordinator for Northern New York

 

God is ever present, bringing us consolations at the most unexpected time. It wasn’t until a short time ago that I started thinking about my children lost from abortion. I mean actually pondering what they looked like, what their personalities were like–would they have been tall or what color would have been their hair or eyes?

 
Sometimes, it is uncomfortable talking and thinking about them so much and not my earthly children. I love them all equally, all five of them.  I am sure that God will place it on my heart to blog on each of them as time goes on.

 
It is reality that my children exist. It is reality that they are in heaven with Jesus. It is a reality that we love each other very much.

 
Considering my three earthly children, considering the genes brought forth from their father and myself, I can contemplate that my son Matthew would have been tall, dark, and handsome, probably have hazel/blue eyes. He would have been a loving and kind man. God only knows what could have been. The thought of meeting them one day brings me so much hope! So with that, these were the consolations given to me today, as I prepared for Mass in communion with all the saints, including my two children living with Jesus.

 
For you, Matthew Carmel ~ love you forever ~ mommy

For Where There Are Two

August 4th, 2016

by Nancy Belzile, Regional Coordinator for Northern New York

It was over 30 years before I was able to acknowledge and provide a visible memorial for my children lost from abortion. During my weekend   memorial-9-14-13retreat with Rachel’s Vineyard in Fall 2007, my children were named Matthew & Elizabeth. An important step in the process of healing is bringing humanity to the child and naming them.  It is always a challenge when people ask me, “How many children do you have?” I often respond, 3, but I really mean 5. Yes, Amen, I have 5 beautiful God-given children.

In 2013, Pro-life Action League along with Priests for Life co-sponsored the first annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children. And, with that, God took me on a new journey to visually memorialize my children.natl-day-of-remembrance-2014

When Fall 2014 came, God placed it on my heart to have a sunrise service. Not many people came, and we didn’t have a priest to lead, but we did it anyway. The little tea lights glittered in the darkness as the sunrise peeked through the trees.

In 2015, my children were given their middle names: Matthew Carmel and Elizabeth Rose.  That September was extremely painful and difficult, emotionally and spiritually. I was ready to cancel the National Daynational-day-of-prayer-2015 of Prayerful Remembrance.  I reached out to many for prayer and support.

After receiving an outpouring of love it was placed on my heart that the only way I could make it to this day was to make a memorial for Matthew Carmel and Elizabeth Rose. And so I gathered some of the items collected from the past: the certificate of life provided from the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan, where their names are written in the Book of Life, a pink and blue Rosary from the Divine Mercy Shrine given to me from my friend Margaret, the Baptism Candle and Lace Angel from the RV Retreat.  I added the butterflies, crosses, bouquets of flowers, and baby booties for a better symbolic treasure of the love I desire to express for them.